Never for­get the labours of yore

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS - By JOHN WORK­MAN

IN this day and age there is so much taken for granted; al­most ev­ery as­pect of our daily lives gov­erned by gad­gets of one de­scrip­tion or an­other to make life eas­ier to han­dle.

Ad­vances in science and tech­nol­ogy dur­ing the past 100 years have made sure that on the whole we lead a more seden­tary ex­is­tence, with the com­puter be­com­ing the fo­cal point for in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, a help­ing hand in work, rest and play.


But we must never lose sight of the labours of yore, and the men and women who worked in in­dus­try, forg­ing a legacy and lay­ing down the foun­da­tions of hard work for gen­er­a­tions to fol­low.


Statis­tics can tell a story all of their own and the fol­low­ing are taken from a sur­vey that was car­ried out for the Black Coun­try and Birm­ing­ham just af­ter the Sec­ond World War and in­clude fig­ures from 1931. Un­for­tu­nately the statis­tics don’t al­low the num­bers to be spe­cific to the Black Coun­try. The heavy in­dus­try of iron and steel, in­clud­ing blast fur­naces, smelt­ing and rolling mills, ac­counted for 15,367 work­ers; tube man­u­fac­ture in iron and steel, 16,141; bolts, nuts, riv­ets, screws, nails, etc., 18,609; foundry and sec­ondary pro­cesses, 21,372; other metal in­dus­tries, 97,246; mo­tor ve­hi­cles, cy­cles and air­craft, 48,915; non-fer­rous met­als - ex­tract­ing and re­fin­ing, 14,846; non­fer­rous met­als - pro­cesses and wares, 19,486; rub­ber man­u­fac­tures, 10,380; sad­dlery, har­ness and other leather goods, 6,930; bricks, unglazed tiles and fire­clay goods, etc., 7,675; glass (not bot­tles) 6,448.

The Black Coun­try’s his­tory is based on its tra­di­tional in­dus­tries and with the ex­cep­tion of coal min­ing which had reached its peak pro­duc­tion mid way through the 19th cen­tury, the big guns, so to speak, are all ac­counted for in this sur­vey.

But now the fac­tory sites have all gone, re­placed by mod­ern hous­ing de­vel­op­ments, and the sounds of the drop forge ham­mer and the ‘bull’, sum­mon­ing thou­sands of work­ers to their labours on the fac­tory floor, have fallen silent.

Shackle smithy circa 1900

A Cose­ley Coro­na­tion sou­venir proudly dis­play­ing lo­cal in­dus­try

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